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Face to Face with Nick Price of Mandarin Oriental

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October 01, 2010
Face to Face
Rich Siegel

Rich Siegel: I’m at HITEC and I’m joined by Nick Price. Today, Nick was inducted into the HFTP Hall of Fame, and we were the first ones to interview him. Nick, tell us, how do you feel?
Nick Price: As I said in my short speech this morning, it really is an honor to be recognized by your peers; people who really understand you and know what you do. And so, they can therefore put value to it. So yeah, I’m feeling good.

Rich: Ok, so let’s talk about technology and what’s going on in the market. In your speech today, I liked your comment that you don’t consider vendors you do business with as vendors, you consider them as partners. Is that real, or is that a little bit idealistic?
Nick: It is real. It is a necessity. See, one of the things with Mandarin Oriental is that we’re a billion dollar business. In the world of hospitality, that’s not huge. A billion dollar business in one state in America would be significant. But, a billion dollar business in 30 countries around the world…that’s very difficult for any vendor to approach. So, I need to deal with vendors I can look in the eye. I go to them with a premise that says, 'If you look after me, I’ll look after you.' We’re in it for the long haul. I’m going to ask you to do things you’ve never considered doing, I’m going to ask you to go to places you’ve never considered going and together we’re going to make a business. Not just of Mandarin Oriental; but, if you go in with me, you can sell more broadly. We’re asking for a long-term partnership, and so it would only be natural that I put in from our side as well. And, we have.

Rich: Sometimes solutions that you implement in Hong Kong or Manila, you can’t implement in Miami or New York. Have you run into that?
Nick: All the time. We often select vendors who want to be international. They may not know how to be, they have to trust us that what we’re asking for is not whacky. That it's generically applicable to the market, and if they do it right and they do it once, they get a great reference. We will happily partner with them and promote what they’ve done. Many of the companies we see here have very small penetration into the international market. If they can do things right, the upside for them is huge.

Rich: I know you’ve talked about virtualization but what are your thoughts on cloud computing?
Nick: I’m big on it actually. It’s a complex subject and it's not something that really devolves into sound bites, right? So, it's really difficult to explain quickly why its relevant.  But, I believe the international hospitality industry is the poster child for cloud computing. Period.

Rich: Now that is an interesting theory. Can you tell us why a little bit?
Nick: Yes, I can. We’re a distributed industry. The nature of what we do is distributed. The place where we earn our money are multiple replicated locations. That is distributed. We’re international. Pretty much every major hospitality company is international in nature. We have too much technology in our hotels today and we are unable to manage it. We need a different solution....

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